From Research to Markets: Strengthening the Innovation Capacity of AUSTInspire
Thematic Area: Minerals, mining and materials engineering
University: African University of Science and Technology (AUST)
Project Leader: Professor Azikiwe Peter Onwualu
Collaborating Partners: Ventures Platform Start Up Foundation, Worchester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), USA Sheda Science and Technology Complex (SHETSCO),
Duration: 14 Months
The African University of Science and Technology (AUST), with support from the World Bank has an African Centre of Excellence (ACE) in Materials - Pan African Materials Institute (PAMI). The Institute focuses on contributing towards solving African problems in materials for: healthcare, energy, shelter and construction, water, oil and gas pipelines and minerals through training, research, and product development. Although PAMI and AUST have established strong collaboration with academic partners and donor agencies, leading to production of world class PhD and MSc graduates from different African countries and large number of publications in international high impact journals, a weak link in the PAMI model is the lack of capacity to commercialize research results. To address this, the university in early 2019, with support from African Development Bank (AfDB) and in collaboration with some innovation hubs and business incubators inaugurated AUSTInspire, the Technology Business Incubator of AUST. This project seeks to strengthen and expand the innovation capacity of AUST through AUSTInspire and create a functional Industry Advisory Board. The project will support the development of strategic policy documents to guide innovation, intellectual property, technology transfer and commercialization for the university. It will train AUST faculty and the students on these areas to foster a culture of innovation, commercialization and academia-industry collaboration among AUST community. The strengthening of the university’s innovation policy environment and the hub operations will lead to: registration of patents; more collaboration with industry and translation of research results to new products and services in healthcare, energy, water, construction, mineral extraction, and agro-processing that will contribute to economic growth of sub-Saharan Africa. The project will also lead to technical support to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) within the region in order to improve their productivity.